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          Seven strangers are trapped in an isolated farmhouse while cannibalistic zombies - awakened from death by the return of a radioactive space probe - wage a relentless attack killing (and eating) everyone in their path. The state-of-the-art special effects and the contemporary twists make this a classic for the 90's: graphic, gruesome, and more terrifying than ever. 

"They're coming to get you Barbra..."
                    - Jonny

          So you're George Romero, writer and director of one of the most influential horror movies ever, Night of the Living Dead, and it's some twenty odd years later and you're executive producing a remake of said movie. Who do you get to direct? How about special effects master Tom Savini, the man responsible for the horrifying effects in Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead? Seems a pretty good choice to me...
        Night of the Living Dead stars Tony Todd and Patricia Tallman as Ben and Barbara, respectively, two individuals who seek refuge in a farmhouse as a legion of hungry corpses descend upon them and soon find the house not so much a haven as a claustrophobic nightmare. They also discover they aren't the only ones in the house, as there are five people locked in the basement. Emerging from their hidey-hole are Harry and Helen Cooper, a married couple, and Tom and Judy Rose, a younger couple, Tom's uncle being the owner of the house. Also in the basement is the Cooper's daughter, Sarah, who has become ill after being bitten by one of the undead (guess where that's going). A diverse group, for sure, and one that finds itself at odds in if it's better to fortify the house or retreat to the fairly secure basement. Harry thinks it's best to go into the basement and bar the door, but Ben would rather board up all the doors and windows, using the basement as a last option, as there is only one way in and out and he doesn't want to trap himself down there unless he absolutely has to...Harry, who is quite vocal throughout, thinks this plan foolish and says once he goes into the basement and bars the door, he won't open it for anything, regardless. As tensions flare, night falls, and the dead begin arriving in greater numbers, I guess sensing the warm, living flesh they so crave to be inside the house. As the situation grows worse, an escape plan is formulated, but the plan soon falls apart, and it's back to the house. Who lives? Who dies? Is rescue in the wings, or should they just put their heads between their legs and kiss their hinders good-bye?
          It's always a sketchy affair remaking a film, especially one that's deemed a classic and definitive representation of its' genre. Look what happened in 1998 when director Gus Van Sant released a remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. A total and tremendous flop...Yes, I am sure there was a awful lot of apprehension to redoing a movie that really didn't need to be redone, but the end result turned out an interesting update, remaining true to the original while adding a few surprises along the way. Tony Todd is excellent as Ben, and is definitely the strongest characterization in the film, bringing a lot of what Duane Jones did in the original, while adding personal nuances to make the character his own. Patricia Tallman's character of Barbara starts out the same as the original played by Judith O'Dea, but goes through some serious changes by the end, allowing for the a modernization of the character to fit more along the lines of the strong female lead, as seen in the Alien films with Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver. Was this for the better? I am still undecided, but it certainly made interesting viewing. The character I found most annoying was that of Harry Cooper, played by Tom Towles. His portrayal was overblown to the point of being silly, with his constant yelling, screaming, and berating of other characters. The Harry Cooper in the original was a jerk, for sure, but at least you got the feeling it was a jerkiness borne of overriding desire to protect his family, even if his plans were at odds with the rest of the group, allowing for viewers to develop some empathy for the character. Here, the character is played as a bonehead to the ninth degree, and it only served to, in my opinion, disrupt the flow of the film. The biggest difference between the original an the remake is obviously the color factor, but one will also notice that the undead are much more detailed than in the original, due to a much larger production budget. You can tell a great amount of effort was taken in this area, enhancing on the original film. The film wasn't quite as gory as I thought it was going to be, but that's pretty well explained in a making of featurette. Seems in order to avoid an X rating, these scenes were either removed or toned down. Savini didn't seem too upset about it, as he felt, and I agree, that sometimes what you don't see is just as effective as what you do see.

          The DVD has the wide screen presentation on one side and the full screen on the other, and includes some good special features like trailers, production notes, commentary by Savini, and a 25 minute making of featurette called `The Dead Walk' that highlights a lot of interesting facts about the movie, along with comparisons to the original. Also in this featurette are some of the scenes that were deleted to get an R rating, along with alternate, more visceral scenes that were toned down in the release. If you liked the original, chances are you'll get a kick out of this film, as I definitely wasn't disappointed, and I usually despise remakes.

Cast & Crew   |   Pictures  |   Coroner Report
Video Clip   |   Trailer

          - The nameplate on the house indicates an "M. Celeste." According to Tom Savini's commentary on the DVD, that's a direct reference to the "Mary Celeste", a ship that was discovered adrift at sea with the passengers and crew missing. 

          - Bill Cardille appears as a reporter in both the 1969 version and the remake. 

          - The scene where Barbara shoots the black man in the chest and then finally in the head wan not originally going to be in the film. We were supposed to see a hideous female zombie that Barbara saw as her mother and everyone was to tell her to "Shoot it!" and the mother looked at Barbara and asked "Where's Johnny, Barbara" and then their mother turned back into the hideous female zombie and she finally shoots it. 

          - The Macgruder zombie was a man that director Tom Savini saw in a diner and told him that he would make a great zombie, the man agreed. He showed up to all of the premieres. 

          - The autopsy zombie at the beginning of the film was not in the original script, something that was added by Tom Savini. 

          - The black man who comes through the window after they throw Macgruder out was a cab driver who Tom Savini took a ride from. 

          - If you look closely after Ben shoves a body out the kitchen door, you can see a cameraman's reflection in the door window. 

          - The car driven by Johnny at the beginning of the film was owned by Tom Savini. According to the director it was the first car he bought after meeting with success and it broke his heart to wreck it during filming.

          - Tom is wearing a shirt that says "Iron City" on it. This is the brand of beer the hunters are drinking in the original Dawn of the Dead.

          - When Sarah bites her mother Helen on the neck, blood splatters on a garden trowel hanging on the wall. This is a reference to the original Night of the Living Dead, in which the daughter kills the mother with a garden trowel.

          - Laurence Fishburne and Eriq La Salle both auditioned for the role of Ben.

          - The scene at the end of the film, where several zombies are lynched from a tree and shot at was in fact scripted in the original 1968 film, but was cut because of the racial tensions gripping the country at the time. The scene pays homage to the cut.

          - Director Tom Savini has known Patricia Tallman since they went to college together. He chose to cast her because of her strong-willed demeanor.

          - As is tradition with most zombie films, the word 'zombie' is never once used in this movie to describe the Living Dead.

          - Like all of the Romero Living Dead movies, there is a 'sexy naked zombie woman' walking toward the house in one scene. Just like in the original film, there is full side and rear nudity shown.




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